Why is printer ink so expensive?

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Today we have a great little article for you;
Why is printer ink so expensive?
We hope you find this article useful. Have a great day.

A Dan Thompson contribution

Why is Printer Ink So Expensive?


Printer ink is expensive, more expensive per drop than fine champagne or
even human blood. If you haven’t gone paperless, you’ll notice that you’re
paying a lot for new ink cartridges – more than seems reasonable.

Purchasing the cheapest inkjet printer and buying official ink cartridge
replacements is the most expensive thing you can do. There are ways to save
money on ink if you must continue to print documents.

Cheap Printers, Expensive Ink

Ink jet printers are often very cheap. That’s because they’re sold at cost,
or even at a loss – the manufacturer either makes no profit from the printer
itself or loses money.

The manufacturer will make most of its money from the printer cartridges you
buy later. Even if the company does make a bit of money from each printer
sold, it makes a much larger profit margin on ink. Rather than selling you a
printer that may be rather expensive, they want to sell you a cheap printer
and make money on an ongoing basis by providing expensive printer ink.

It’s been compared to the razor model – sell a razor cheaply and mark up the
razor blades. Rather than making a one-time profit on the razor, you’ll make
continuing profit as the customer keeps buying razor blade replacements – or
ink, in this case.

Many printer manufacturers go out of their way to make it difficult for you
to use unofficial ink cartridges, building microchips into their official
ink cartridges. If you use an unofficial cartridge or refill an official
cartridge, the printer may refuse to use it. Lexmark once argued in court
that unofficial microchips that enable third-party ink cartridges would
violate their copyright and Lexmark has argued that creating an unofficial
microchip to bypass this restriction on third-party ink would violate
Lexmark’s copyright and be illegal under the
US DMCA. Luckily, they lost this

What Printer Companies Say

Printer companies have put forth their own arguments in the past, attempting
to justify the high cost of official ink cartridges and microchips that
block any competition.

In a Computer World story from 2010,
HP argued that they spend a billion dollars each year on “ink
research and development.” They point out that printer ink “must be
formulated to withstand heating to 300 degrees, vaporization, and being
squirted at 30 miles per hour, at a rate of 36,000 drops per second, through
a nozzle one third the size of a human hair. After all that it must dry
almost instantly on the paper.” They also argue that printers have become
more efficient and use less ink to print, while third-party cartridges are
less reliable.

Companies that use microchips in their ink cartridges argue that only the
microchip has the ability to enforce an expiration date, preventing
consumers from using old ink cartridges.

There’s something to all these arguments, sure – but they don’t seem to
justify the sky-high cost of printer ink or the restriction on using
third-party or refilled cartridges.

Saving Money on Printing

On Monday November 4th, I will post a guide to buying the right printer.

Even though computer printers are relatively ubiquitous, you can’t just go
pull one off the shelf and be guaranteed a great product. Ultimately, the
price of something is what people are willing to pay and printer companies
have found that most consumers are willing to pay this much for ink
cartridge replacements. Try not to fall for it: Don’t buy the cheapest
inkjet printer. Consider your needs when
buying a printer and do some research. You’ll save more money in the long

Consider these basic tips to save money on printing:

1. Buy Refilled Cartridges: Refilled cartridges from third parties are
generally much cheaper. Printer companies warn us away from these, but they
often work very well.

2. Refill Your Own Cartridges: You can get do-it-yourself kits for
refilling your own printer ink cartridges, but this can be messy. Your
printer may refuse to accept a refilled cartridge if the cartridge contains
a microchip.

. 3. Switch to a Laser Printer: Laser printers use toner, not ink
cartridges. If you print a lot of black and white documents, a laser printer
can be cheaper.

. 4. Buy XL Cartridges: If you are buying official printer ink
cartridges, spend more money each time. The cheapest ink cartridges won’t
contain much ink at all, while larger “XL” ink cartridges will contain much
more ink for only a bit more money. It’s often cheaper to buy in bulk.

. 5. Avoid Printers With Tri-Color Ink Cartridges: If you’re
printing color documents, you’ll want to get a printer that uses separate
ink cartridges for all its colors. For example, let’s say your printer has a
“Color” cartridge that contains blue, green, and red ink. If you print a lot
of blue documents and use up all your blue ink, the Color cartridge will
refuse to function – now all you can do is throw away your cartridge and buy
a new one, even if the green and red ink chambers are full. If you had a
printer with separate color cartridges, you’d just have to replace the blue


. If you’ll be buying official ink cartridges, be sure to compare
the cost of cartridges when buying a printer. The cheapest printer may be
more expensive in the long run.

Of course, you’ll save the most money if you
stop printing entirely and go paperless, keeping
digital copies of your documents instead of paper ones.

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